Uncertainty after ACT child protection agency stripped of NSW funds

Premier Youthworks Managing Director Lisa Glen. Photo: Marina Neil
Premier Youthworks Managing Director Lisa Glen. Photo: Marina Neil

Questions linger after one of the region’s largest child protection providers was stripped of a major NSW contract.

Premier Youthworks is a for-profit venture that provides out-of-home care to troubled children across 15 properties in the ACT.

On Tuesday it was revealed that Premier had lost its contract to provide out of home therapeutic care to children in NSW.

The move came as part of a broader shake-up of out-of-home care by the NSW government.

A spokeswoman for ACT Children’s Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said it was “not appropriate” for the minister to comment on Premier Youthworks’ loss of funding.

“Minister Stephen-Smith has known that Family and Community Services NSW were undertaking a comprehensive tender process for intensive therapeutic care services,” she said.

Barnardos, the lead agency for the consortium providing out-of-home care in the territory, also declined to comment on the funding situation.

“Barnardos Australia…is unable to comment on the [tender] due to NSW Government Procurement Probity rules,” a spokeswoman said.

Premier is understood to have about 300 staff in total, the bulk working at residential care homes in NSW.

It is not clear how the anticipated loss of staff will affect Premier’s business as a whole, what will happen to the children housed by Premier in Queanbeyan, or what impact the reforms will have on the company’s ACT operations.

Premier Youthworks has been under scrutiny since late 2016 after a Four Corners investigation of child protection and further reporting by theNewcastle Herald and Canberra Times.

Premier declined to comment on its loss on Monday, but an internal memo told staff that the company was unsuccessful in its tender for “Intensive Therapeutic (Residential) Care in NSW”.

“We do not have detailed feedback as yet in relation to the decision making by FaCS nor do we have a definitive timeframe for next steps,” the memo read.